GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission discussed adding a new position to the city solicitor’s staff to aid victims of domestic crimes guide them through court procedures.
“We found out that we did get the award for the VOCA (Victims of Crime) grant that we applied for earlier this year,” City Solicitor Adam Salisbury said.
Administration of the grant comes through the U.S. Department of Justice. The city solicitor’s office learned of those who applied for similar grant funding in Ohio. Agencies that applied for the grant received roughly 65 percent of what they asked for in funding. Gallipolis’ office received 100 percent of what was requested. According to Salisbury, the office received more than $100,000 in federal funding.
“The reason for that is because we’re going to do something that nobody else is doing, which is taking these victims of crime and helping them go from the criminal setting to a civil setting so that they can completely escape from the pattern of violence that they are in,” Salisbury said. “We want to be be able to take somebody that has been abused and living in an abusive situation from being a victim in the criminal setting and testifying in court against their accuser there. We’d like to take them from that setting and get a civil protection order for them so that the court orders the offender to not be around the (victim) any longer. If we can get an agreement done without getting messy, we could do dissolutions and child custody (cases) for the victim. That way we can completely separate (the victim and potential offender) from their relationships and (material possessions).”
According to Salisbury, individuals in domestic abuse cases often return to an abusive relationship for the sake of raising children, a desire to defend what they own or because they rely on the abusive spouse or significant other for survival.
“This program is unique as far as southeastern Ohio goes,” Salisbury said. “That, I think, is why we were funded the way we were. The money we applied for was for another attorney, in addition to myself and the assistant city solicitor. That other attorney is going to be responsible for giving advice to (domestic dispute) victims while they are in the criminal setting and they represent them in court in the civil setting.”
According to the commission, four individuals are being considered for the new attorney position. Salisbury recommended Brynn Saunders. According to Salisbury, he said Saunders has prior experience in dealing with civil situations involving domestic disputes.
The commission voted unanimously to approve Saunders’ employment.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.